WBEZ | Rahm Emanuel http://www.wbez.org/tags/rahm-emanuel Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Mayor to CPS on graduation rates: ‘Go back and be accurate.’ http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-cps-graduation-rates-%E2%80%98go-back-and-be-accurate%E2%80%99-113166 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/4626481280_3e71045657_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he told Chicago school officials to go back and fix the errors in the graduation rate that were first reported in June by WBEZ and the Better Government Association.</p><p>&ldquo;Soon as there were questions raised, I said, &lsquo;Go back, and analyze what&rsquo;s going on and be accurate,&rsquo;&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s exactly what they did.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago Public Schools officials announced late Thursday it would <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-lowers-graduation-rate-after-errors-found-113148">revise the past four years of graduation rates</a> and make sure to include students who dropped out but <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-touts-bogus-graduation-rate-112163">were misclassified as having transferred</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;There was an error pointed out,&rdquo; said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool. &ldquo;We studied that information. We had to wait until the end of the summer schools to have all the data. And then we corrected it.&rdquo;</p><p>Claypool said the errors &ldquo;shouldn&rsquo;t deflect from the fact that the trendline is up.&rdquo;</p><p>The trendline is up -- officials also announced late Thursday that the new 2015 graduation rate is 69.9 percent.</p><p>But the errors raise questions about how well the district is accounting for students who are still dropping out. Under Emanuel, CPS nearly doubled the number of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/meet-companies-profit-when-cps-students-drop-out-111665">alternative schools in the city</a> and opened r<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-you-find-high-school-dropouts-110816">e-engagement centers</a> to do the work of tracking down kids who are listed as dropouts. But the students who were misclassified wouldn&rsquo;t have been officially listed as dropouts and no one would have known to track them down.</p><p>Emanuel agreed that&rsquo;s cause for concern.</p><p>&ldquo;If we missed a dropout, they&rsquo;re not only dropping out of high school, they&rsquo;re dropping out of life, and their ability to earn a (living),&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So of course I&rsquo;m concerned. I&rsquo;m concerned (about) what it means for the rest of life, not just the system and its data gathering.&rdquo;</p><p>When the errors were <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-touts-bogus-graduation-rate-112163">first reported in June</a>, officials admitted there was a problem, but said they didn&rsquo;t plan to go back to fix the publicly-reported statistics.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her </em><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-cps-graduation-rates-%E2%80%98go-back-and-be-accurate%E2%80%99-113166 CPS lowers graduation rate after errors found http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-lowers-graduation-rate-after-errors-found-113148 <p><p dir="ltr">The official graduation numbers that Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted throughout his first term and his re-election campaign were wrong.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools is revising its official graduation rate after WBEZ and the Better Government Association&nbsp;found thousands of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-touts-bogus-graduation-rate-112163">dropouts were being misclassified</a> as transfers.</p><p dir="ltr">The official graduation rate for 2014 was actually 66.3 percent, not 69.4 percent, officials said late Thursday. Every year dating back to 2011, the year Emanuel took office, was revised down two to three percentage points.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this year, records obtained by WBEZ and the Better Government Association under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act revealed that since 2011, at least 2,200 students across 25 district high schools were counted as having transferred out of the district, when in reality, they were dropouts.</p><p dir="ltr">At just those 25 CPS high schools, more than 1,000 of the dropouts were mislabeled as moving out of town or going to private schools, but were actually attending CPS alternative schools. More than 600 of the mislabeled dropouts were listed as getting a GED, when state law is clear that students who leave school to enroll in GED programs or attend alternative schools are dropouts.</p><p dir="ltr">One school, Curie Metropolitan High School, labeled more than 100 dropouts every year as leaving to be homeschooled. Another 1,300 of the so-called transfers had no explanation of what school they were supposedly transferring to or were vaguely listed as going to different states or countries.</p><p dir="ltr">When asked in June, district officials acknowledged problems with the system&rsquo;s accounting, but said they had no plan to go back and adjust the numbers.</p><p dir="ltr">John Barker, the district&rsquo;s chief of accountability, said all of those students, plus similar misclassifications at all of the district&rsquo;s 100-plus high schools were put back into <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/behind-cps-graduation-rates-system-musical-chairs-111786">the calculation</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So what you&rsquo;re seeing is an adjusted rate that&rsquo;s a little bit lower because you have more students in the denominator,&rdquo; Barker said. To understand how CPS calculates its graduation rate, watch this animated video.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="465" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/i0EibDr47gc" width="620"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson said the errors were concerning, but she&rsquo;s still encouraged that the number of students graduating is increasing.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The fact that more students have graduated did not change,&rdquo; said Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson. &ldquo;Even with the adjusted rate, we have more students as far as the number.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Jackson said some of recent gains are due to the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/new-alternative-schools-some-run-profit-companies-come-hefty-price-tag-110239">aggressive expansion</a> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/meet-companies-profit-when-cps-students-drop-out-111665">of for-profit alternative schools</a> in the city, many which provide half day, mostly online programs that allow students to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/same-diploma-different-school-111581">earn their high school diploma in a fraction of the time</a>. She said the district won&rsquo;t be opening any more of those schools because CPS is in a financial crunch, not because some existing operators have questionable business practices.</p><p dir="ltr">But the raw number of graduates from 2014 to 2015 increased by just 84 students, from 20,232 to 20,316, for a 2015 rate of 69.9 percent, according to district data provided late Thursday. Barker could not immediately say how many dropouts had to be reclassified in the new rate.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Capture_1.JPG" title="Source: Chicago Public Schools" /></div><p>Jackson acknowledged that principals and other staff could feel pressure to improve their school&rsquo;s public reputation. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t doubt that there are some principals who feel a great degree of pressure,&rdquo; Jackson said, adding that she wants to provide more support instead of just layer on more accountability.</p><p dir="ltr">Barker said the district is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-acknowledges-errors-takes-steps-count-dropouts-correctly-112180">still planning to train school clerks</a> and has developed an internal system to flag misclassifications sooner.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 22:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-lowers-graduation-rate-after-errors-found-113148 Chicago begins inaugural celebration of built environments this weekend http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-begins-inaugural-celebration-built-environments-weekend-113147 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Biennial 151001.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If Chicago&rsquo;s buildings could talk, they&rsquo;d probably speak in a variety of languages. &nbsp;</p><p>The city is well-known for its diverse architecture, making it an ideal spot for North America&rsquo;s largest architecture exhibition. Hundreds of architects, urban planners and designers are flocking to Chicago to share their work at the inaugural <a href="http://chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org/">Chicago Architecture Biennial</a>.</p><p>The three-month long exhibition is designed as a forum for creative-types to share new design ideas for cities through conversations, exhibits and tours around the city.</p><p>Joseph Grima is the event&rsquo;s co-artistic director.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really the opportunity to affect the lives of individuals, groups, but also of entire communities,&rdquo; Grima said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s one of the things that exhibition explores, is the impact of good architecture on communities both in Chicago and other cities.&rdquo;</p><p>The Chicago Cultural Center is currently home to many of the exhibits, which includes full-scale houses from designers from places like Mexico and Vietnam.</p><p>Tatiana Bilbao is a participating architect from Mexico City. The house she designed is built from simple materials -- like wood and industrial pallets. Bilbao prioritized affordability so that the poorest families in Mexico aren&rsquo;t confined to one-room dwellings.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s very important that people have a very comfortable place to live, and normally these people don&rsquo;t have the chance,&rdquo; Bilbao said. &ldquo;If you have a (better) place to live, you can be a better citizen.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/heOuwXh0mAQ?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Many of the participating architects are working on Chicago-based projects too.</p><p>Thomas Jacobs, an architect from the firm Krueck + Sexton. His designs are meant to address the empty lots seen all over the city. One of his projects included a design that would alter the way buildings are oriented on a city block. The design allows more daylight to enter the home, while avoiding windows that look directly onto a next door neighbor.</p><p>Jacobs said architects are well-equipped to address the sometimes simple problems that arise in communities.</p><p>&ldquo;I think a lot of the work that you see at the biennial, deal with some of these fundamental questions,&rdquo; Jacobs said. &nbsp;&ldquo;How could you improve neighborhoods and communities? And some of the things are very simple. It doesn&rsquo;t necessarily take a lot of money or technology. It&rsquo;s just orienting the building in a smarter way could do a lot to create space that is more usable and better for people.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other private sponsors were on hand Thursday to preview the exhibits. Emanuel said &ldquo;the study and discussion of architecture is engrained in the civic fabric of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>He also pointed to a favorite project of his, the Chicago Riverwalk, as an example of how changing a space can improve the mood of an environment.</p><p>&ldquo;As cities have a renaissance, how we think of sustainability, how we think or urban planning and creating a space of commonality, can make a difference in the livelihood of a city,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>The Chicago Architecture Biennial is free and open to the public. Designs are on display at the Chicago Cultural Center. There are a number of projects scattered around the city and along the lakefront. The exhibition opens Sunday and also includes free architecture tours.</p><p><em>Meredith Francis is a WBEZ news intern. Follow her<a href="https://twitter.com/MMLFrancis"> @MMLFrancis</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 15:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-begins-inaugural-celebration-built-environments-weekend-113147 Property tax hike will hit renters too http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-01/property-tax-hike-will-hit-renters-too-113141 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/apartment Flickr Hannah Constantin.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If the mayor&rsquo;s nearly $600 million property tax increase gets through City Council, landlords may end up charging renters more. WBEZ Political Reporter<a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor"> Lauren Chooljian</a> breaks down the numbers and give us a sense of what renters could be facing.</p></p> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 12:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-01/property-tax-hike-will-hit-renters-too-113141 Emanuel pitches privatization of HIV/AIDS primary care clinics, cuts to training http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pitches-privatization-hivaids-primary-care-clinics-cuts-training-113133 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_471755110302_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-074d446a-2090-467c-a274-feda1848bdc1">Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is strongly considering privatizing primary care services for HIV/AIDS patients on the South and North sides. He is also ending an <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/provdrs/sti_hiv_aids.html">HIV/AIDS training program</a> for city agencies. Local advocates and community health groups say the Chicago Department of Public Health has already informed them of their intentions.</p><p dir="ltr">Currently, the city&rsquo;s public health department runs <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/provdrs/sti_hiv_aids/svcs/hiv_aids_early_interventionservices.html">two primary care clinics</a> - one in Englewood and the other in Uptown - that provide medical care, mental health assistance and other support to any Chicago resident living with HIV/AIDS.</p><p dir="ltr">Officials with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that represents the at least 17 employees who would be affected by the changes, said they&rsquo;re concerned about job losses and access to quality care.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re especially concerned about the services provided in Englewood, because there aren&rsquo;t as many other options for folks to go to and we&rsquo;ve already made it pretty clear from research that having services in close proximity makes a difference in terms of people being able to get the care they need and follow the regime they need to do,&rdquo; said Jo Patton, Director of Special Projects for AFSCME.</p><p dir="ltr">The mayor&rsquo;s office is selling the outsourcing proposal as a way to &ldquo;expand community-based primary care services.&rdquo; In the 2016 budget book, the city pledges to serve 2,000 low-income HIV positive residents through &nbsp;a $1.5 million investment, granting access to a &ldquo;wide array of services through the City&rsquo;s delegates, including primary medical care, mental health, substance abuse treatment, case management and other supportive services.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">A budget office spokeswoman said right now, the city provides care to less than 500 HIV-positive residents, and outsourcing would allow them to reach an additional 1,500. The city is planning on including a requirement in the request for proposal, which isn&rsquo;t available yet, that the new care provider works within the current Englewood facility.</p><p dir="ltr">The city also confirmed it would be ending the HIV prevention training program, and union officials estimate that at least six jobs will be lost. A city spokeswoman said the health department is in talks with the Illinois Department of Public Health and other agencies to make sure that the training is covered.</p><p dir="ltr">David Ernesto Munar, President and CEO of the Howard Brown Health Center, said he agrees with the plan, as the city currently can&rsquo;t provide the different levels of care (like behavioral health or mental health) that some HIV-positive patients need, but he&rsquo;ll be watching the city&rsquo;s execution. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really all about how it&rsquo;s done, and making sure that the transition is handled carefully, and particularly that the transfer of care for patients is done in a way that nobody is lost,&rdquo; Munar said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s been the concern of HIV activists around the city that in this system redesign we don&rsquo;t lose sight of making sure the patients are stewarded to the new model of care or that nobody&rsquo;s care is interrupted.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Munar said Howard Brown recently hired Dr. Cori Blum, the physician who used to staff these city clinics, which he hoped would alleviate some of the pressure on patients who might want to leave the Uptown clinic. He also added that Howard Brown might compete in the future bidding process to take over the city&rsquo;s private clinics. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Roman Buenrostro, Director of Special Projects for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, says the idea to privatize is not a new one. Buenrostro also serves as community co-chair for <a href="http://www.cahisc.org/">CAHISC</a>, where the idea has come up a number of times in the past as a way to maximize resources. Buenrostro said his number one concern is also to make sure no patient is left behind in the transition, but that outsourcing could be a &ldquo;creative&rdquo; way to continue care in an era of budget crises on both the city and state crises.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;What the city is saying is, if we turn this money over to community-based organizations to provide these services, we can serve a lot more people with the same amount of money,&rdquo; Buenrostro said. &ldquo;And why wouldn&#39;t we want to do that? So that&rsquo;s where I don&rsquo;t think that the word privatization is necessarily a bad word.&rdquo;</p><p>Privatization has been a popular word lately around city hall, as the mayor is also considering outsourcing the city&rsquo;s 3-1-1 services, which would cut 72 jobs. Officials have said the non-emergency phone system requires costly upgrades, potentially $25-30 million dollars over four years, and private vendors could suggest better or cheaper options.</p><p>The Chicago Department of Public Health is scheduled to appear in front of aldermen Thursday for a budget hearing. On Wednesday, both aldermen who represent the clinics said they hadn&rsquo;t heard definite details about the potential privatization.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-074d446a-2084-9829-7a15-c92ab0befffa"><em>Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 18:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pitches-privatization-hivaids-primary-care-clinics-cuts-training-113133 Chicago alderman questioning IPRA investigation of police misconduct http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-alderman-questioning-ipra-investigation-police-misconduct-113117 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/283201_187501511309757_7602640_n.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Chicago aldermen are holding hearings over the next couple weeks to vet Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s budget. One of the departments funded by the city is IPRA, the Independent Police Review Authority. IPRA investigates serious police misconduct but several aldermen are expressing concerns about the effectiveness of that agency.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ipra-fails-pursue-potential-crime-cops-caught-video-113018" target="_blank">One case involving the verbal and physical abuse of an Asian-American woman</a> has been getting particular attention because it was caught on tape. But it&rsquo;s also getting attention because when the officers realized the abuse was on tape they tried to take possession of the recording.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That seeming attempted obstruction of justice was never investigated by IPRA.</div><div>To view police officer&#39;s attempts at finding and taking possession of the video click <strong><a href="https://youtu.be/fHTTy9D8x2w?t=32m30s" target="_blank">here </a></strong>and <strong><a href="https://youtu.be/fHTTy9D8x2w?t=38m34s" target="_blank">here</a></strong>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ald. Ameya Pawar of the 47th ward joined WBEZ&rsquo;s Robert Wildeboer in studio Tuesday to talk about the case and its implications for community trust of police.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><hr /><p><strong>WILDEBOER</strong>: First off, IPRA is recommending a 25-day suspension for a police officer who told Jessica Klyzek, an Asian-American woman, that she wasn&rsquo;t American. The officer said he was going to put her in a UPS box and send her back to wherever she came from. Is a 25-day suspension appropriate?</p></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>PAWAR</strong>: I mean, I thought what was said on that tape was incredibly offensive and not just to the woman but to the broader Asian-American community, and I think if we&rsquo;re going to say that we are an immigrant-friendly city then our public safety agencies along with all our departments have to reflect that and I think the 25 days is light in my opinion.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>WILDEBOER</strong>: Asian-American community groups in Chicago are calling for the officers to be fired. You&rsquo;ve seen the video. Should these officers should be fired?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>PAWAR</strong>: I think what I want to know is what they&rsquo;ve done in the past and how they arrived at 25 days. Again, I&rsquo;m a process-oriented person so I want to know how they got from point &lsquo;A&rsquo; to point &lsquo;B.&rsquo; Looking at that tape in its entirety it doesn&rsquo;t seem to reflect the values of the police department. It doesn&rsquo;t seem to reflect the values of all the men and women who serve in the Chicago Police Department so my question is how they got to that penalty.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>WILDEBOER</strong>: After the verbal abuse officers realize that they are being recorded and they appear to try to destroy the video. You&rsquo;ve watched that portion of the video. What&rsquo;s your take? Does this look like an attempt to obstruct justice and is this something you think IPRA should have investigated?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>PAWAR</strong>: I think that second question is the right one, which is, why weren&rsquo;t there any questions asked about, it seemed to me that the conversation was, well, if we seize the video then it&rsquo;s better us than them. That to me is highly problematic. And again, I have a lot of questions on why there wasn&rsquo;t a broader investigation, or at least a question, a simple question as to why they were discussing seizing that surveillance video. I mean I think this is why people are suspicious of the people who are supposed to serve them. Remember, we&rsquo;re all supposed to be on the same team here.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>WILDEBOER</strong>: You&rsquo;ve previously said it&rsquo;s important to question and challenge police agencies and I wanted to see if you could talk a little bit more about that.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>PAWAR</strong>: So I&rsquo;ll give you some political context. I marched with a &lsquo;Black Lives Matter&rsquo; processional prior to the election and during the election that came up as me being anti-police, that I don&rsquo;t support police officers. Questioning a police officer or a police department is seen as being anti-police and I think that is really problematic because you have to be able to question your public institutions. That&rsquo;s what makes them stronger. That&rsquo;s what make democracy stronger. I think it&rsquo;s also important to know that as an alderman--and I support the police department, I&rsquo;m about to vote on one of the largest property tax increases in history to fund their pensions--so I just think we have to move beyond this idea of ...this being a binary conversation, that either you&rsquo;re with the police or you&rsquo;re against the police. It just doesn&rsquo;t make any sense. It doesn&rsquo;t lead to good results and it&rsquo;s going to continue to divide communities. And I think that also means that the FOP, the police department, the superintendent, city council, we all have a role in this and making sure we&rsquo;re addressing the legacy issues. We have to.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Robert Wildeboer is a WBEZ criminal and legal affairs reporter. Follow him at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/robertwildeboer">@robertwildeboer</a>.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-alderman-questioning-ipra-investigation-police-misconduct-113117 Chicago's deputy mayor testifies on property tax exemption http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-deputy-mayor-testifies-property-tax-exemption-113055 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/8125706315_02e35afa49_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; An aide to Mayor Rahm Emanuel is testifying before state lawmakers on a proposed property tax exemption as Chicago looks to increase property taxes to help pay pensions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Deputy Mayor Steven Koch told legislators Thursday that the city wants to protect residents whose homes are worth $250,000 or less and Chicago&#39;s downtown business core will absorb much of the burden.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Emanuel has called for a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mayor-pushes-historic-tax-increase-fix-citys-finances-113047" target="_blank">$543 million property tax over next four years</a>. But he needs sign off from Springfield on an exemption. Democratic legislative leaders say they&#39;re on board, but Gov. Bruce Rauner hasn&#39;t been as receptive.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>RELATED STORY:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-23/freshmen-aldermen-respond-mayor-emanuel%E2%80%99s-budget-113042" target="_blank">Freshman Aldermen respond to Mayor Emanuel&#39;s budget plan</a></strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Koch says the current exemption of $7,000 could be $12,000 to $15,000. No legislation has been filed yet.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Business groups testifying say the increase is unfair, especially with other high taxes in Chicago.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&mdash; <em>The Associated Press</em></div></p> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 14:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-deputy-mayor-testifies-property-tax-exemption-113055 Chicago mayor pushes historic tax increase to fix city's finances http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mayor-pushes-historic-tax-increase-fix-citys-finances-113047 <p><p>Rahm Emanuel, who was re-elected this year after a tough campaign, says the tax hike is the best way to address deep financial problems caused in part by Chicago&#39;s vastly underfunded pensions.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_165738935866.jpg" style="height: 306px; width: 600px;" title="Mayor Rahm Emanuel outlines his 2016 proposed budget before the City Council, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Chicago. In his speech Emanuel called for a phased-in $543 million property tax increase, along with $45 million more for schools. He also called for other fees, including for garbage collection and ride-sharing services. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)" /></div><p><strong>TRANSCRIPT</strong></p><p><strong>STEVE INSKEEP, HOST</strong>:</p><p>This year, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel got himself re-elected after a tough campaign. And now comes a tough question of governing. Candidates did not talk much about higher property taxes during the campaign, but now the mayor wants Chicago aldermen to approve a tax increase. The mayor says the tax hike is the best way to address deep financial problems caused in part by Chicago&#39;s underfunded pensions. NPR&#39;s Cheryl Corley reports.</p><p><strong>CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE</strong>: Mayor Emanuel first talked about Chicago&#39;s good economic news during his budget address, pointing to a big drop in the city&#39;s unemployment rate and the relocation of several business headquarters to the city. But there&#39;s always been a looming fiscal crisis, and Emanuel said the seeds of it began long ago, when questionable borrowing by the city created long-standing deficits, and inadequate contributions to employee pensions left Chicago with the worst-funded pension system among major cities.</p><p><em>(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)</em></p><p><strong>RAHM EMANUEL</strong>: Raising property taxes is a last resort. It is why we have never increased them in the last four years, but we must solve the pension challenge we inherited, and there are only two options.</p><p><strong>CORLEY</strong>: One option - cutting services. Emanuel ticked off cost cutting reforms made in previous budgets, but said to cover the pension costs, he&#39;d have to let 20 percent of the police force go, 40 percent of the city&#39;s firefighters and take other severe steps. The other option is his proposal - a record half-billion-dollar-plus tax hike spread over four years that would fund the pensions of firefighters and police. After the mayor&#39;s address, Alderman Robert Maldonado says such a massive tax hike will be hard for him to sell to residents in his Chicago ward.</p><p><strong>ROBERT MALDONADO</strong>: To get another slap in the face in terms of property taxes, that&#39;s not something that they&#39;re going to stomach easy.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_974543055433.jpg" style="float: right; height: 219px; width: 340px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Mayor Rahm Emanuel, center, shakes hands in Council chambers before outlining his 2016 proposed budget to the City Council Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)" /><strong>CORLEY</strong>: In an effort to block the proposed tax hike, Emanuel has asked Illinois lawmakers to approve expanding tax exemptions for owners of less expensive homes. That would mean the lion share of the tax would fall on the owners of more costly homes and commercial buildings. But getting approval is a tough prospect in a statehouse where the Republican governor and the Democratic-led legislature have been locked in a stalemate over the state budget since July 1, and the governor has called for property tax freezes. Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said Emanuel has also ignored suggestions made by the city council&#39;s progressive caucus.</p><p><strong>CARLOS RAMIREZ-ROSA</strong>: It included things like an alternative minimum property tax for downtown skyscrapers.</p><p><strong>CORLEY</strong>: But Alderman Will Burns says the proposed Chicago property tax hike is a necessity.</p><p><strong>WILL BURNS</strong>: It&#39;s to make sure that our city doesn&#39;t end up in bankruptcy. We don&#39;t have some federal judge dictating how much pensioners receive or what city services are funded or what the taxes are going to be. We have an opportunity to avoid becoming Detroit, and that&#39;s what we&#39;re doing today.</p><p><strong>CORLEY</strong>: In addition to the tax hike for pensions, Emanuel is taking other steps to repair the city&#39;s low credit ratings and ease an estimated budget deficit of $750 million. One includes requiring all Chicago property owners to pay for garbage pickup. Currently, Chicago is just one of three major cities, along with Boston and New York, that hauls away garbage free for most residents. Recognizing all the political risks that come with approving the tax hikes and fees, Emanuel offered Chicago aldermen a pep talk of sorts.</p><p><em>(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)</em></p><p><strong>EMANUEL</strong>: I believe we will be remembered as the men and women who pulled Chicago back from the financial brink and made Chicago stronger.</p><p><strong>CORLEY</strong>: Otherwise, said Emanuel, Chicago&#39;s fiscal challenges will continue to grow. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/23/442761566/chicago-mayor-pushes-historic-tax-increase-to-fix-citys-financial-woes" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Wed, 23 Sep 2015 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mayor-pushes-historic-tax-increase-fix-citys-finances-113047 Morning Shift: September 23, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-23/morning-shift-september-23-2015-113043 <p><p>For television, fall means a new season of shows and one of those is the popular hip hop drama Empire, which has its Season 2 premiere tonight. We talk about the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-23/cultural-impact-fox%E2%80%99s-hip-hop-drama-%E2%80%9Cempire%E2%80%9D-113039">show&rsquo;s cultural impact</a>.</p><p>And there&#39;s no doubt Chicago aldermen having been getting calls from their constituents about Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s planned property tax hike and garbage collection fees. The mayor laid out his budget yesterday and now it&rsquo;s up to aldermen to decide how they&rsquo;ll vote and what changes they&rsquo;ll push for. We&rsquo;re joined by three freshman aldermen who share <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-23/freshman-aldermen-respond-mayor-emanuel%E2%80%99s-budget-113042">their take on the mayor&rsquo;s proposed budget</a>.</p><p>We also get an update on plans to build a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-23/englewood-residents-meet-discuss-new-whole-foods-113041">Whole Foods</a> in Chicago&rsquo;s Englewood neighborhood, and what it says about working to eliminate food deserts in some of the city&rsquo;s underserved areas.</p><p>And we get a visit from <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-23/reclaimed-soul-soul-records-keep-it-all-family-113038">Reclaimed Soul</a>&rsquo;s Ayana Contreras.</p></p> Wed, 23 Sep 2015 11:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-23/morning-shift-september-23-2015-113043 Freshmen aldermen respond to Mayor Emanuel’s budget http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-23/freshmen-aldermen-respond-mayor-emanuel%E2%80%99s-budget-113042 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/aldermen on budget.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The fate of Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s proposed 2016 budget is now in the hands of Chicago&#39;s aldermen. Yesterday the mayor<a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-22/mayor-rahm-emanuel-reveals-budget-113027"> laid out his full plan</a> for righting the city&rsquo;s fiscal ship when he presented his budget to City Council. You&rsquo;ve heard the details by now: a huge property tax hike of nearly 600 million dollars, most of it to cover fire and police pensions, monthly garbage collection fee of almost $10 per household, along with other fees and taxes.</p><p>The mayor needs at least 26 votes to get his plan passed and leading up to his address yesterday he was courting members of the Council&rsquo;s progressive caucus.</p><p>We&rsquo;re joined by three freshman alderman, two of them in that caucus: <a href="https://twitter.com/cdrosa">Carlos Ramirez-Rosa</a> represents the 35th Ward, which includes parts of Logan Square, Hermosa, and Avondale; <a href="https://www.facebook.com/milly31ward">Milly Santiago</a> is from the 31st Ward, which includes parts of Logan Square, Hermosa and Belmont Cragin; and <a href="https://twitter.com/ssadlowskigarza">Sue Garza</a> is from the 10th Ward, which represents parts of South Chicago, East Side, Calumet Heights and Hegewisch.</p></p> Wed, 23 Sep 2015 11:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-23/freshmen-aldermen-respond-mayor-emanuel%E2%80%99s-budget-113042